Saturday, December 29, 2012

Two Trips to the Mountains

Back in October I had a chance to visit an area of old growth forest in the northern Adirondacks in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area.  It's reputed to be the largest track of old growth in the northeast, and takes a pretty good effort to get there.  I parked in Wanakena then followed a trail in an area that was clear cut by the Rich Lumber Company over 100 years ago and has grown back in some areas and covered with wetlands and beaver ponds in others.  My destination was the ponds shown with an esker running down the middle of them.  In all it would be about 25 miles of hiking in two days, more hurried than I would have liked, but I was glad to get the chance to get there.

Two Trips to the Mountains



The hike mainly sticks to a route that was originally a rail line to log the area north of the Five Ponds, it was later turned into a truck road to provide access to the river and a hotel.  Now it's a very flat footpath with many, many beaver dams.  Due to the unseasonably (in the past anyway) warm temperatures, I was hiking in sandals and just took them off to wade through water that sometimes reached my knees.  Other times a scored log provided a nice flat bridge to scoot across.

Two Trips to the Mountains


I got to the lean-to on Big Shallow Pond just as the sun was setting.  Not surprisingly I had the place to myself as it was about 13 miles from the trail head.

Two Trips to the Mountains


Sunrise lit up the esker above Big Shallow Pond and brought out the golden hue of the larch on the far end.  From the top of the esker one can view three of the five ponds, and find some impressive hemlocks.

Two Trips to the Mountains



The whole purpose of going to this area was to see the big trees, and I saw several.  Many areas with old growth feature just one species that was left during a logging operation, but here nothing was cut.  The white pines are cause for a stiff neck, the trunks on the yellow birch dwarfed my full-sized pack, and even what was blown down in the Micro Burst of 1995 give a unique perspective of their majesty.  I paced off the one on the ground, my feet sinking several inches into the soft wood, and determined it stood over 130'.  Now it's an incubator for countless species of bacteria and fungi.

Two Trips to the Mountains


The trail is not only a remnant of the Rich Lumber Co. work, but a resort hotel that was located near High Falls.  Being a warm day in late October with plenty of sunshine I couldn't resist a swim after lunch here.  And that piece of machinery is a reminder of the logging days.

Two Trips to the Mountains


Towards the end of the loop I took a spur trail to the top of Cat Mountain.  That trail passes Glasby Pond which is in both of these pictures, and that's Cat Mtn. reflected in it.  From here it was a quick walk on a flat trail past Cranberry Lake and back to my rental car with the dead battery.  One must be careful with those push-button ignitions.  And it's pretty remarkable that an area as serene as Five Ponds adjoins Cranberry Lake as that body of water is anything but peaceful.  If you go there, expect crowds.  I had a dog come after me as I walked past a lean-to, the owners couldn't be bothered to get it away from me, and some guys had set up several "tents" complete with propane-fired grills blocking the marked trail along the lake shore. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Whole Bunch of Pictures



Gail went out of town for a week so I tried to keep Bean from missing her too much and took him on very long walks.  I took the camera along and sent Gail pictures, mostly of him, but sometimes I remembered how to use the timer or got someone to take our picture.  Here he sits on the wall overlooking Ithaca Falls (very dangerous, but he's well versed in "sit and stay"), goes to the top of McGraw Tower for one of my favorite views and one of my favorite activities in town, a chimes concert, and just waiting for President Skorton to challenge him for the best seat in Schoellkoph Field.

Whole Bunch of Pictures



Top:  Taking in the view of the 30' dam in Six Mile Creek.  No jumpers this time of year.  Same for the next picture at Beebe Lake.  Contemplating the lack of a Canine Ecology Building at Cornell and the local installation of Andy Goldsworthy's work at The Plantations.

Whole Bunch of Pictures





Introducing a song about dogs on a local radio show, getting a sulfuric acid bath, checking out a very empty storage room at Cornell Orchards and showing who is really the king of the beasts.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beginning of Fall

I'm calling this one done.  It's pictured with an explanation in the August 2012 post but I thought I'd go higher with it, above the branches at least.  But when I returned in late September many of the rocks at the top had fallen.  So now they're back up there, but if you visit it's probably a good idea to stay back at least ten feet judging from where some of them landed.

Beginning of Fall

video
Here's a high tech post, I've somehow managed to put up video of the final inspection. 

Beginning of Fall

Over Labor Day Weekend I took care of two ambitions I had for the summer.  One was to spend a night in the lean-to on the section of the Finger Lakes Trail that Gail and I maintain with our neighbor.  Despite living within a few miles of it for 15 years and taking care of the trail for several, I'd never camped there.  I also wanted to create something with a rock pile along the trail.  Way back in 2003 I made my first cairn about a quarter-mile from here and it's since been labeled the "Unusual Rock Pile" in the Cayuga Trails Club guidebook.  For this one I decided on another thing that Andy Goldsworthy had done and went ahead with another cheap knock-off.  Originally it was just going to encase this nearly horizontal tree, but then I decided to extend it and ring the clump of red maples.  When I returned this weekend with friends Connie and Andy, Connie suggested a slight change to make it look like a dragon or serpent (I can never keep the two straight).  It's still got some work to go.

Beginning of Fall

Connie wanted to green things up a bit so started finding moss-covered rocks.  Her other idea of adding spikes down the spine didn't work so well but Andy figured we could use glacial erratics for the same effect.

Beginning of Fall

More perspectives.  Ultimately, it will rise back up before getting to the tree and then drop down to a low point again.  Or the design might change again.

Beginning of Fall

Here's how it looked after the initial work and before Connie made the suggestion to turn it into a serpent, I mean dragon.

End of Summer

Since Gail had her hip replaced last spring, we didn't do a big bike trip this summer, in fact, what we ended up doing was a 12-mile trip to Trumansburg and back with an overnight at Alan and Marylin Vogel's house (see previous Crossing the Finger Lakes post). Let's be clear, 24 hours in Trumansburg can be pretty amazing, and we didn't even make it to Taughannock Falls. We did make it to the Farmer's Market where I saw the office/kids store I'd worked on earlier in the summer at GrassRoots set-up, we went to Cori, Andy, Orion and Ozzie's house, I played golf for the first time in a few years (consistently boggied most holes with one par). But two of the amazing highlights were the stops at the shops of John Gurche and Bob Potts. Richie Stearns tagged along to John's as he and Alan needed to inspect the engine on a van, but we all took in the tour of his shop and saw his current projects.  I'm not sure The Smithsonian or National Geographic (both of whom John has done projects for) know there's a drum set in his shop or that it's just a garage, I guess it's the quality of the work that counts.  In the picture John is holding on Gail's shoulder the cast of a skull from a body he's recreating. The bones were found in South Africa and are older than Lucy, but more recent than Astralopithecus, I can't even begin to explain the complexities in the painting. Bob Potts was kind enough to show us some of his kinetic sculptures, like this one that's in progress which will be a "fish" that looks as though it's swimming.

End of Summer

Later in the day we drove past Richie's caboose and stopped in to say hi and inspect the progress there. I had gone last spring to help do a little work (ditch digging and ditch filling) so it was nice to see the updates and that it's pretty livable. He'd just taken delivery of a new banjo from Johannes Bonefaas and I got a chance to try it out, after a tuning demonstration shown here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another Tree Post

I've been called a tree-hugger more times than I've actually hugged them, but I couldn't resist with this one. For one thing a hug gives some scale to the size of this tree. For another thing, this is a tree I've been looking for my entire adult life. It appears to be an American Chestnut (Castanea Dentata). I say appears because there are some imposters that often confuse or trick people, however, I'm pretty certain this is the real deal since a real tree expert I know found a chestnut in Six Mile Creek last year and gave me an idea where it was so I went and found it. In the case of that one, I'd been within ten feet of it several times without noticing it, with this one I dare say I'd been that close at least 100 times. I'm not saying where it is other than also in Six Mile Creek, so you'll have to get out there and find it, which you can do by staying on the trail and keeping your dog on leash with you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Crossing the Finger Lakes

Earlier this summer Andy Moore mentioned this idea of walking across the Finger Lakes Region and swimming across each lake. The logistics sounded pretty complicated with needing places to get into and out of the lakes, places to stay, and support vehicles with gear and food which would also transport the kayak that accompanied the swimmers. Then when I saw Andy's father-in-law, Alan Vogel, he mentioned he was going to walk 18 miles from Sampson State Park on Seneca Lake to Canoga on Cayuga Lake the next day. So I rode up to Sampson with Alan, his daughter Cori, and Cori and Andy's son Ozzie where we met the three guys doing the walk/swim. Andy, Neil and Bill were about done breaking down the camp, getting the day's route worked out with the support vehicles and nursing some aches and pains when we got there. Cori and Ozzie drove ahead all day and stopped in the shade occasionally so we could get a drink and snack. Marilyn Vogel joined us later in the day as we got close to Cayuga Lake.

Crossing the Finger Lakes

We had a nice road closed to traffic to get out of Sampson State Park, but as we walked north the view was of Seneca Lake which was upsetting to the guys who had already swum across in pretty choppy waters after walking about 30 miles. They had no desire to start the day going back. Fortunately we turned east after walking the Lake Rd. where I stopped for a well-deserved break. Hey, I got to bed late the night before.

Crossing the Finger Lakes

At one point along the way (OK, at several points) I got a little behind, but at this one I could see they were turning a corner so all I had to do was cut across this field. The guys really seemed like they were having some kind of religious experience so I had them pose in front of this nice little church in Fayette. Red Jacket was born in Fayette. Alan had just had a religious experience when he saw the awning of the fire house in Fayette, stop by and see it sometime, I didn't take a picture of it.

Crossing the Finger Lakes

Andy, Neil and Bill donned their wetsuits and headed out for the east shore of Cayuga Lake with Cori along in the kayak as support. After she'd been driving the truck carrying the kayak around all day with Ozzie, it only seemed fair she get some fun in the sun. So Alan drove the truck (with a broken brake line) and Ozzie and I joined Marilyn and we drove over to Union Springs to meet them. When they emerged from the water we transferred all their stuff into Marilyn's car for Cori and Ozzie to support them the rest of the day on their way to Owasco Lake, we tied the kayak on the car roof and Alan and Marilyn and I took the truck. They dropped me off in Ithaca and went back to Trumansburg to fix the brakes.

Wood and Stone

As the trail system expands on the compound out in Caroline, new treasures are found, like this rock pile with a large ash tree growing next to it. Connie and Andy had been encouraging me to make some kind of sculpture, or "statement" as Connie put it. Knowing the ash will likely be dead soon from Emarald Ash Borer
and how you're not supposed to move firewood to prevent spreading the borer infestation but it's going to get here someday no matter, I thought of constructing this Borer Protector, and if it fails and the tree dies, nobody will be moving it for quite awhile.